The People of Penn Forest: Meet Nancy Chubb

Your Name: Nancy Chubb
Your Pronouns: She
Your Role with Penn Forest Cemetery: Officially I am President of Land Conservation Cemeteries, an LLC that owns Penn Forest Natural Burial Park and, along with Pete McQuillin, a majority owner of the business. Unofficially that means I weigh in on all major decisions and many of the everyday ones.

Describe a typical day for you at Penn Forest. 

My time is spent in planning meetings, cemetery and barn chores, administrative tasks. I’ve been involved with almost every aspect of Penn Forest, including finding the land, creating the business plan, building the farm, and now plans for the Remembrance Garden. In inclement weather I have opened our home to gathering mourners. 

How did you get connected with Penn Forest Cemetery?

It was in a conversation with Pete about our own wishes for a green burial that the idea of creating a green cemetery here in Pittsburgh was first conceived in 2008. We both wanted to be buried in an environmentally-friendly way and there was no option for that locally. So we decided to build one here, having no idea what we were getting into. Fortunately we have had wonderful help every step of the way and made lifelong friendships.

What are some of your responsibilities and duties?

I feel a responsibility for all the things that happen here, even if I’m not directly involved. My main duty is to keep an eye on everything. We moved out to the cemetery a few years ago so that we could do that 24/7. Caring for the cemetery is woven completely into our lives.

Describe one thing about Penn Forest that the average person might not know or find surprising.

Penn Forest is more about life than death. For life to flourish, death must happen. You know, “the cycle of life”. We offer people a chance to personally participate in it through their death but while they are alive, they can enjoy the farm animals, wildlife, and nature. Lot owners are welcome to hang out in the barn, have a picnic in the meadow, get a discount on Yoga with Goats classes. We have lots of ideas about how to continue developing Penn Forest so it is an inviting and educational conservation park.

 Why is green burial important to you?

Green burial is the most efficient way to return my body to nature so that it can support future life. I find it comforting that after my death my organic matter remains organic, just in different forms.

Tell us about your connection to Pittsburgh. Are you a native of this region? A transplant?

I grew up in the DC suburbs but my father grew up on Beaver Grade Road in Robinson. I spent my summers on my grandparents’ 300 acre dairy farm, called Hidden Brook Farm. Those were formative years for me and I found joy being in the woods and with the animals. When I was looking for a college, Chatham College was just far enough from home and a horticultural treasure. Pittsburgh, the city, grew on me over the years and I became a big fan. As an adult I found out my grandfather, Charles Chubb, was an early President of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. I think he would approve of the work we are doing to restore the eco-system at Penn Forest.

Do you have a favorite tree at Penn Forest, either a specific type of tree or an actual tree that resonates with you?

This land was a farm until the 1950s and so it was cleared for fields. There are a few big old trees scattered around. They’re my favorites. I wish I could be around in 100 years to see how the trees we are planting now mature. With our focus on increasing the diversity of the trees, it will be even more beautiful.

How can people connect with you?

Thank you, Nancy. 

This is one in an occasional series profiling the people involved with Penn Forest Cemetery and our multiple projects. 

You can find Penn Forest:


Twitter: @PennForest and @JinglesPF

Instagram: @PennForestCemetery 

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The (R)Evolution of Penn Forest: More than just Green Burials

Penn-Forest-Fall-LeavesAs some of you may already know, Penn Forest is an enchanting green space. A hike around the property yields stunning views of lush canopy cover and ravines that unfold at  Plum Creek, which surges around the forest.  If you’re patient and quiet, you’ll likely see many species of birds, as well as deer, turkeys, ground hogs and foxes.

We manage thirty-two acres of this serene forest . As of right now, only 2.5 acres are allotted to burials. This leaves a whopping 29.5 acres free for other ventures! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, literally, and we want your ideas!

Here are a few of our ideas for those 29.5 acres…

  • Wildlife refuge
  • Hiking trails, open to the public
  • Apiary (Beekeeping)
  • Community gardens
  • Picnic areas
  • Development of outdoor amphitheater for memorial services and cultural events (plays, poetry readings, music festivals, etc.)
  • Interpretive nature trails
  • Sculpture in the forest, or other art projects

We see this as a community initiative and your input is integral to making the most of what Penn Forest has to offer! Feel free to comment directly on this blog post for how to best utilize this space.  Or if you prefer, email with your comments and ideas.

A space like Penn Forest has the potential to be more than just a green cemetery. We believe the resting place for your loved ones needn’t only be a reminder of the dead, but a celebration of the living as well.

Penn Forest Presents at Mother Earth News Fair

On September 21, Pete McQuillin gave an inspiring presentation about Green Burial at the Mother Earth News Fair.  Mother Earth News Fair is held annually in Seven Springs, PA and among the topics were forest restoration, the potential to use the land for more than just burials, and much more!  You can click here to view the slideshow of the presentation.
Mother Earth News Fair 2012 Penn Forest


Looking for education or more information about green burial for your group or organization?  The folks at Penn Forest are available to give education presentations about green burial and forest restoration.  Contact us for next steps.

The Birds of Penn Forest

Birds of Penn Forest

Jeff Giles, our friend and cemetery next-door neighbor, has gone above and beyond once more in creating “The Birds of Penn Forest”  (we have mentioned previously for all of the help he has volunteered at Penn Forest).

Well, we caught up with Jeff a few weeks ago to ask him a few questions about the birds of Penn Forest project…


1. What inspired you to start this project? 

I have been watching birds for most of my life.  Because of this interest in birds, I bought a book from the Audubon Society so that I could learn more about these fascinating creatures.  I can now recognize most birds by site and some even by sound.

As a part of the project, I have created a few visual displays that Penn Forest can use to show visitors.

2. How many birds have you catalogued? 

Roughly between 35 and 40 birds.  There were 34 or so on the project board, but I have spotted a few more since then.

3. What is the rarest bird that you’ve seen on the property? 

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the rarest birds I’ve seen. Before I moved here I had only seen one other in my life and that was out in Ligonier.   These birds are not often seen in densely populated areas.  Penn Forest does not have that much Middle Eastern Bluebirdhuman activity, so I think they like it here.  I once witnessed their mating dance and boy was that cool.  They are very unusual birds.

There are Middle Eastern bluebirds are hanging out at Penn Forest too.


4. Do you think birds are drawn to Penn Forest?  If so, why? 

For one the lack of humans is a factor that draws some of the birds to Penn Forest.  Another is the availability of water.   Also, the various different kinds of trees and berries available at Penn Forest attract them.  The trees provide insects and birds eat insects.

5. What else can you tell me about the birds of Penn Forest?

I witness all sorts of beauty when I’m sitting on my property at night.  And one of my favorite things is that the robins know me and follow me around when I mow the grass!  I love that.

Thanks Jeff Giles for being such a great friend and neighbor to Penn Forest!



Since we had our picnic on June 9th, I’ve had several people tell me how much they felt at home with the Penn Forest crowd—like they’d been friends for years. Comments like these have led me to reflect on my 4-1/2 years working on this project and how all these new friends have enriched my life.

Friends at Penn ForestI’m 67 years old. Before I started working on green burial—starting this woodland cemetery—my friends were few and close. Now, I can easily count more than 100 people I like to spend time with, and the list keeps growing.

Why is this? What is it about green burial advocates that I like?

Well, they’re people who try to walk gently on the earth. Like me, they like the outdoors and the woods. Like me, they think green burial and forest restoration are important for the future of the planet. But it’s more than that.

In short, I would say they are kind and caring. They want to be nice to others. To help, instead of harm. Nice folks.

So, now that we’re coming up on our one-year anniversary of getting our cemetery license next month, I want to say to everyone, “Thank you for your friendship.”

Friends among the trees

Friends discussing green burial

Young friend at Penn Forest

Youngster at Penn Forest

Maritza at Penn Forest

Pete McQuillin at Penn Forest

Post written by Pete McQuillin | June 25, 2012

Penn Forest Photo Contest

Photo contest to be held annual picnic

On June 9, we will hold our second annual picnic and invite friends, family and special guests to celebrate our first full year in operation.  When you visit Penn Forest, you will see a host of picturesque images to capture.  So, we want to put your camera to good use!

Here’s what to do

  • Capture your favorite aspect of Penn Forest. Is it one of the many native species? Is it a buzzing bee on a flower? Is it meeting new friends? We want to see Penn Forest through your eyes!
  • Email your favorite photo to by July 6, 2012 and we’ll upload one photo to our Picnic Photo Contest album on the Penn Forest Facebook Page.
  • Tell your friends and family to Facebook Like the photo on Facebook.

Determining the Winners

  • For each “like” on your photo, you will receive one point.
  • For every person you refer to our email newsletter, you will receive one point (the person has to list your name in the referred by section of the sign up process).
  • The entrant whose photo receives the most Points will win a Flip Ultra HD 4GB Video Camera!

Other Details

Voting on the pictures in the album on Facebook will begin on Monday, July 9 and end on Monday, July 16.  Any ‘likes’ incurred after Monday, July 16 will not count as a point.  During the same time frame, you can earn an additional point for every person that signs up for our email newsletter and lists you as the referrer.

Questions regarding the contest?

Contact Sarah Mayer, Penn Forest Marketing Consultant, at 412-225-2310 or via email at

Giving Thanks

Jeff Giles, our next door neighbor, tireless volunteer and dear friend, fixed up our previously ‘not in working order’ tractor and cart. He charged the battery, cleaned the carburetor and filled the tires. And I’m happy to say it now runs like brand new!  We plan to use it for grass-cutting, hauling, even coffin transport as it has a five speed transmission and can go very slowly when needed.

Jeff has been a great friend to Penn Forest and we thank him for being so giving and helpful!


Working Hard On Restoration

We have had two successful work days at Penn Forest so far this year.  Both events were held from 9 am to 1 pm on a Saturday.  The volunteers did a great job, as you can see from the pictures below, removing debris, brush and invasive plants and weeds.

The next work day is scheduled for April 21 from 9 am – 1 pm with a rain date on April 28 also from 9 am – 1 pm.  If you are interested in joining the fun, email or call 412-265-4606.




Green Burial Equals Forest Restoration at Penn Forest

I have hiked and camped in many of the best forests in the eastern United States, both large and small.  To help sustain and expand them I’ve contributed to many environmental organizations, including the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and most recently the Maine Woods Initiative of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

But by doing so, I rarely know how my contribution is actually spent or feel that I can have much of an impact on large-scale problems or projects.  However, lately I’ve found another way to better see and understand how to preserve a forested piece of land.  That is through my local green burial cemetery.

In green burial, bodies are buried in natural settings, without toxic or non-biodegradable materials, so the plants above benefit and the wildlife can flourish.  Think about how many more trees there could be if all of the approximately 4001 cemeteries in Allegheny County were green burial cemeteries with the graves spaced among the trees instead of in place of them.  Think of the benefits from all those trees!

The Benefits of Trees

  • Trees help to settle out, trap and hold particulate pollutants (dust, ash, pollen and smoke).
  • They absorb CO2 and other dangerous gases, and in turn, replenish the atmosphere with oxygen.  By some estimates trees produce enough oxygen on each acre for 18 people every day, depending on the species, climate, temperature and health of the trees.  Enough CO2 is absorbed on each acre of trees over a year’s time to equal the amount produced by driving a car 26,000 miles.2   
  • The trees also protect water quality and provide habitat for wildlife.

See the YouTube video the Importance of Trees for more evidence!

When a green burial cemetery is operated properly, the costs of the gravesite purchases and services provided can be used to contribute to sustaining and restoring the forest within its boundaries.

That is what I like about the Penn Forest Natural Burial Park. It is local; it is predominantly forested; but the land needs some help to restore it to a native-like Pennsylvania forest.  I can even work there on restoration days if I want to.  But most importantly, my purchase of a gravesite is helping to preserve a forest, to make it better, and I can see that, experience it, and enjoy it.


This post was provided by Roger Westman, Restoration Committee Member